In a momentous occasion blending ancient history with contemporary celebration, the Colosseum in Rome shone with the glow of Chanukah candles as Vice Prime Minister Antonio Tajani, alongside Rabbi Menachem Lazar of Chabad Piazza Bologna, spearheaded a poignant lighting ceremony.
The ceremony outside the Colosseum attracted dignitaries including the Vice President of the First Municipality of Rome Alessandra Sermoneta, Chief Rabbi of Rome Riccardo Di Segni, President of Union of Italian Jewish Communities Noemi Di Segni, Vice President of the Jewish Community of Rome Antonella Di Castro, and Rabbi Levi Matusof, Director of European Jewish Public Affairs.
In his remarks, Rabbi Lazar underscored the significance of the ice menorah against the backdrop of the Colosseum, emphasizing its message of endurance in the face of adversity. “Amid the stark reminders of ongoing antisemitism, the menorah’s presence outside the Colosseum holds even greater power,” Rabbi Lazar remarked. “Today, we stand in front of this symbolic place for the Jewish people, where the Roman Empire once stood. Yet, despite the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem by that same empire, we kindle the menorah here, 2000 years later. Just as the Roman empire has vanished, so too will the forces of evil of today. The light of Chanukah will continue to shine, illuminating the world with hope and resilience.”
Vice Prime Minister Tajani addressed the gathering, touching upon the situation in Israel and advocating for the release of hostages and the dismantling of Hamas. In a heartfelt tribute, Tajani remembered his dear friend Giorgio Lazar, underscoring the personal significance of the occasion.
The menorah was lit by the wife and children of Giorgio Lazar, followed by guests who joined in honoring his legacy.
The doughnuts were donated in memory of Eugenio Sonnino by his niece Nicole Menasci, who together with the daughter of Eugenio, lit one of the candles.
As the ice menorah blazed with the eternal flames of Chanukah, it served as a poignant reminder of the Jewish people’s unwavering spirit throughout history. Against the backdrop of Rome’s ancient ruins, the message of hope and resilience echoed through the ages, inspiring all who gathered to witness the timeless ritual.